Pioneer in molecular imaging to lead new MSU initiatives

  • Sep 28, 2016
  • Faculty & Staff, Research, CMSE

Christopher H. Contag

Christopher H. Contag

Christopher H. Contag will join Michigan State University as the inaugural director of the Institute for Quantitative Health Science and Engineering and the chairperson of the new Department of Biomedical Engineering.

Contag was previously a professor in the Departments of Pediatrics, Radiology, Bioengineering and Microbiology and Immunology at Stanford University. He held the titles of associate chief of Neonatal and Developmental Medicine, director of Stanford’s Center for Innovation in In Vivo Imaging and co-director of the Molecular Imaging Program.

“I am honored and excited to lead the new institute and biomedical engineering department,” Contag said. “With two medical schools, nursing, veterinary medicine, natural science, engineering and the new Department of Computational Mathematics, Science and Engineering, MSU has the essential elements of a world-class biomedical engineering program and to be become a national leader in biomedical research and development.”

MSU’s new Institute for Quantitative Health Science and Engineering is a collaboration between the Colleges of Natural Science, Engineering and Human Medicine. It will be an interdisciplinary research center devoted to basic and applied research at the interface of life sciences, engineering, information science and other physical and mathematical sciences. The Department of Biomedical Engineering was established in January 2015 and began accepting students into the graduate program this fall.

“The College of Natural Science is very pleased to be a partner in developing the Institute for Quantitative Health Science and Engineering,” said R. James Kirkpatrick, dean of the College of Natural Science (NatSci). “With the college’s strengths in the basic biological, physical and mathematical sciences NatSci faculty will contribute significantly to the growth of the Institute’s critical interdisciplinary programs.”

“In his new roles, Contag has a rare opportunity to lead this bold new initiative in collaborative health science and engineering research,” said Leo Kempel, dean of the College of Engineering. “Contag’s international reputation and leadership skills will shape new interdisciplinary partnerships and expand the college’s research enterprise as applied to human health. This is an extremely exciting time at our college."

“Christopher Contag is one of the top five imaging scientists in the world," added Norman Beauchamp, new dean for the College of Human Medicine. "His joining MSU will be catalytic for the recruitment of scientists and physician scientists, trainees, industry partners and of community supporters.”

Contag graduated from the University of Minnesota with an undergraduate degree in biology and a doctorate in microbiology. His research career began while studying mother-to-infant transmission of HIV leading to enhanced understanding of how the disease develops. It was during this work that he turned to non-invasive imaging to help study living processes in the body. He will build on this foundation of developing and using imaging tools to understand biology and expand his research scope at MSU.

Contag’s appointment will begin Nov. 1, pending approval by the MSU Board of Trustees.